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Responding to service fragmentation: outcomes contracts and collaboration in cross-sector ecosystems of support

Engaging with Evidenceis a series of interactive online convenings hosted by the Government Outcomes Lab (GO Lab) and designed to encourage a greater understanding of the latest evidence on the use of cross-sector partnerships focused on outcomes. The sessions are hosted monthly, and attract a diverse range of practitioners from different sectors, as well as researcher from across the world.  

Building independent, high-quality evidence 

At the GO Lab, we believe in the importance of building independent, high-quality evidence and disseminating it effectively to inform policy decisions and improve practice on the ground. As new evidence around the use of outcomes-based approaches is starting to emerge, we hope that with this series of online convenings we can continue to bridge the gap between evidence and practice, and help foster real dialogue between policymakers, practitioners and researchers in an honest, transparent and constructive way. Both veterans and explorers interested in better understanding the latest evidence around the use of outcomes-based approaches are welcome to join these sessions.  

Throughout 2021, Engaging with Evidence will offer an open platform for policymakers, practitioners and researchers around the world to engage with key findings from the latest research and evaluation work in the field. They will have the opportunity to discuss new evidence directly with the authors of research and evaluation studies, hear the practical insights of the partners involved in the development and implementation of the projects under discussion, and reflect on the relevance of the evidence to their own work.  

What to expect

Each session lasts 90 minutes and features contributions from a diverse panel of experts, as well as ample time for contributions and questions from all participants. Discussions at each session are grounded in the findings of a recent evaluation or research study, with additional practical insights brought in by stakeholders directly involved in the work or project under discussion. Each session follows a set format:  

  1. Setting the context & presentation of the evaluation/ research findings
  2. Discussion with the panel and audience questions
  3. Closing remarks 

If you’d like to suggest a topic or highlight a recent study that you’d like to see discussed on a future session, please contact our moderators Andreea Anastasiu or Tanyah Hameed.

Session recording

Listen to the audio recording of the session.

Session overview

This Engaging with Evidence session investigated the use of outcomes contracting as a potential approach to foster cohesive cross-sector collaborations to improve social outcomes. We drew on Government Outcomes Lab’s recently published interim report on the Kirklees Integrated Support Service and Better Outcomes Partnership, which outlines four hypothesised features of social impact bonds that are expected to improve service delivery.

The Kirklees project aims to support adults who face barriers to living independently and who have historically experienced poor and fragmented provision from lots of different parts of the state and voluntary sector – benefits, housing, mental health, sometimes criminal justice system. This case illustrates the wider potential of outcomes contracts as a structure to support an important coordination or ‘orchestration’ role across a complex set of local provider organisations. The session combined these emerging research insights with views from practitioners and engaged researchers, focussing on addressing fragmentation in public services and building holistic ecosystems of support.

We were joined by an outstanding line-up of guest academics and practitioners from both sides of the bond, including Professor Alnoor Ebrahim (Tufts University), Richard Johnson (The Global Fund & The World Bank), Sarah Cooke (Bridges Outcomes Partnerships) and Val Keen (The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, UK government)

Drawing on examples in countries around the world, our guest panellists reflected on the broader applicability of the insights that have emerged from the report, with a focus on how to use cross-sector collaborations to build cohesive systems to drive better social outcomes. Moreover, we discussed how to embed lessons learnt in policy and practice.


Report: The Kirklees Integrated Support Service Social Impact Bond evaluation report (Government Outcomes Lab)

Guide: Introduction to outcomes based contracting (Government Outcomes Lab)

Book summary: Measuring social change summary note (Alnoor Ebrahim, Tufts University)

Video: Measuring social change (Tufts Talks, Tufts University)